We always hear how great meditation is for us and it has become a popular method to manage stress and anxiety. There are many different types of meditation - one that I have seen to be very beneficial for emotional eating is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that helps you learn a simple thing: to pay attention and to be present. This type of meditation has been shown to be effective for helping with anxiety and depression and involves several different types of practices. Techniques that you can practice include deep breathing, body scan, walking meditation, and mindful eating.
How can it help emotional eating?
Emotional eaters turn to food for comfort – often in an attempt to escape uncomfortable or intense feelings. The practice of mindfulness meditation gives us the opportunity to become more present with ourselves just as we are. It means paying attention to our thoughts, feelings and sensations – without judging or rejecting anything. Instead of struggling to get away from experiences or feelings we find difficult or uncomfortable, we practice being able to be with them. And when we learn to sit with our feelings, we can manage our emotions and lessen our need to use food for comfort.
Sounds good, right? If you’re ready to give it a try, keep reading for some Mindfulness Meditation Techniques that you can start practicing right away!
Mindfulness Meditation Techniques:
1. Deep Breathing
One of the most basic mindfulness meditations is a breathing meditation. This technique is to simply focus your attention on your breath, the inhale and exhale. Techniques can differ – either by counting your breaths or by simply observing each breath without trying to adjust it. If it’s the latter, you can focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the sensation through your nostrils. You may find that your mind wanders, distracted by thoughts or bodily sensations. That’s okay. Just notice that this is happening and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Body Scan Meditation is an exercise that guides you to focus your attention on different parts of your body – from head to toes! This body scan provides an opportunity for you to experience your body as it is, without judging or trying to change it. It creates a mindful awareness of your physical sensations and helps to relieve tension you may not have been aware of. UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center has provided afreeBody Scan Meditation that you can find here.
3. Walking Meditation
This is a mindfulness practice which involves focusing closely on the physical experience of walking and paying attention to the specific components of each step. Walking meditation can help increase awareness of our physical sensations as well as our surroundings, which helps to bring us into the present moment. By paying attention to the process of walking, we can appreciate and enjoy what our body does for us. This awareness and appreciation – created by any mindfulness practice—can help us gain a greater sense of control over our thoughts, feelings, and actions, allowing us to better manage negative thoughts or emotions.
4. Mindful Eating
When mindfulness is applied to eating, it can help you recognize your patterns and behaviors, while bringing attention to bodily cues associated with hunger and fullness. This is key for preventing overeating and managing emotional eating.
You can also check out my previous blog all about Mindful Eating here.
If you struggle with emotional eating, Mindfulness Meditation is a practice that can help! If there is only one technique you want to work on, start with your breath. When you notice that you have gotten so caught up in thoughts that you have forgotten where you are and end up overeating or binge eating, gently bring yourself back to your breath. This will help bring you back to the present moment.
And remember that the goal is to be mindful of whatever is happening, without judging yourself – even when you are experiencing intense, overwhelming feelings. When you are able to be present with your thoughts and feelings, you can finally free yourself from emotional eating for good!